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Central-Wanchai Reclamation and Waterfront (M Arch I 1999/2000)

Abstract
By : Ng Yuk Sang, Daniel

 
Antithesis
1. High value land creation by reclamation;
2. Creating a second skyline and replacing the old one
3. Highway engineering and architecture are mutually exclusive, example: Eastern Corridor (Highway).

Bridge City
The Wanchai-Central By-pass will be expanded into a seven-storey, multi-purpose urban center, the “Bridge City.” Zoned for mixed-use, the area will provide generous space for a variety of commercial, cultural, and recreational activities. The By-pass starting underground in Wanchai is elevated and connected to the Western Harbor Tunnel in Central. The Bridge City will create a “floating” community, a spectacular addition to the Wanchai-Central skyline connecting one part of the city to another.
The slab-form structure of the Bridge City will provide a large G.F.A. to free up valuable space for a waterfront park. The structure will also feature an enclosed recreational area by the harbor open to the general public.
It will provide lookout areas, with spectacular vistas of both Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula. It symbolically addresses our theme that reclamation is nothing more than destruction of our heritage. Located in the cultural hub of the Wanchai harborfront, the Fiesta Market houses the city’s most prominent theaters, galleries, shops, restaurants, and a multi-cultural food market. The Fiesta Market also features a variety of artistic and educational facilities. Designated as a vehicle-free zone, the area promises to provide a safe and fun-filled area for adults and children alike. The glass structure mass transportation system connects the harbourfront to the Bridge City. Visitors can spend the day shopping and relaxing in the café, all the while enjoying the dramatic view of the Victoria Harbor.
(Following are extracts from project handout issued by Dr. BS Jia)
“To obtain highly valued land near existing developed areas, large scale reclamation has been carried out through the twentieth century along both sides of Victoria Harbor. The shoreline continues to be transformed with new reclamation projects dominated mainly by economic interests and traffic requirements. However, social, ecological and cultural requirements remain neglected. Increasingly negative impacts of these reclamation schemes have been recognized in the media, and published criticism is also on the rise. The narrowing harbor channel threatens the safety of marine transportation. Hong Kong’s historic and cultural imagery is being slowly destroyed.”
“Total developable gross floor area on the reclaimed land is approximately 1,587,660 square meters (17,090,000 square feet). Detailed programs of accommodation can vary from one project to another, provided that clearly stated reasoning is given for each individual project.”
(Students: Ng Yuk Sang, Chee Yunn Ee, Wan Siu Hung, Wang Hiu Ying, Wong Wei Him, Yuen Siu Hei)

Tutor’s Comments
One important feature of a highly dense city is the relationship between buildings and infrastructure; namely, the railway and highway become crucial to its success, both as a design entity and as a functional entity. However, traditional disciplinary boundaries prevent architects and engineers from working more closely together. While it is true that buildings and infrastructure are physically very close to each other, they still lack substantial integration, despite platitudes to the contrary. One continues to finds not only avoidable conflict, but also avoidable conflict of a very intense nature, due to the compressed nature of the dense physical environment.
The original reclamation design proposed by the planning authority offered an open group of disconnected buildings accompanied by highways, open plazas and waterfront promenades. A later revision to have an underground highway – providing an open and pedestrian-friendly waterfront – unfortunately proved ten times more expensive than a surface solution. This design project was a search for alternatives through architectural solutions: a merging of building with a highway and monorail along the shore, a water park further inland, and finally footbridges connecting to existing public transportation networks and the central business district. The students investigated a rarely explored architectural typology in which building and highway become a coherent whole, enhancing the existing site forces and character of Hong Kong’s particular scenery. In the spirit of American architect Paul Rudolph’s work for lower Manhattan in the late 1960s, the building scope has been opened and enlarged to become a simple megastructure, which tends to be (but not successfully executed in this project) a form generated by rapid movement.

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